By Corey Mohn
Last week, the CAPS Network was announced as a top 100 global innovation in education by the global influencer HundrED. Released live from Helsinki, Finland on Halloween, HundrED’s 2024 Global Collection report put a spotlight on products and services supporting young people that have proven a potent combination: 1) a high level of impact; 2) the ability to scale this impact to other countries and cultures, truly generating positive global results.
This is the second consecutive year the CAPS Network has been recognized by HundrED (a rare feat) and my presence at the award festivities and summit, surrounded by unique changemakers, put me in a reflective stance. What are the common traits that thread these amazing people?
Hyper aware, floating around Helsinki in a jetlagged state of mind, I was able to identify some unique threads that I believe are informative as we seek to maximize our collective positive impact on the world. They happen to come in the form of 4 P’s.
- Presence matters. There is incredible peace of mind that comes when we lift up from the urgency of the now and give ourselves permission to be fully present in the moment. One clear trait of HundrED entrepreneurs and educators is their ability and willingness to lean into conversations and the humanity of the people around them. Ask yourself this question: How often do you feel completely focused on the person or people in front of you and not distracted by racing thoughts or your phone? Cherish the great gift of presence and experience the wonders these innovative superheroes are channeling.
- Place matters. Sometimes you need a change of scenery to create a change of mindset. A meeting you might have at your office for convenience could yield significantly different results and future action than one held outside of your normal comfort zone. I experienced this firsthand when I ventured to a local coffeehouse in the City Centre of Helsinki. Suddenly, all my senses were on fire. The language, the smells, the scenery were all different than anything I had ever experienced. As a result, I found myself completing a writing project that had previously been a struggle. Place matters!
- People matter. This is a similar thought to being present, and yet important enough to make the distinction as the company you keep matters. A friend of mine, Dr. Chris Unger at Northeastern University, coined a phrase that sticks with me: “Designing for Serendipity.” You can curate your own luck and opportunity when you position yourself around the right crowd. Certain individuals will motivate you, inspire you, and hold you accountable in the most loving way. This group of HundrED innovators are an example of these people. It’s worth the time to determine where you can find the right people – both in time and space.
- Purpose matters. Why we do what we do matters. Every single person at this event leads with purpose. Purpose supersedes any brand, product, organization or industry. When purpose is pure, you find allies in the work.
Ideas vs. Innovations
As co-founder of HundrED, Saku Tuominen, shared with us, “There is a difference between an idea and an innovation. An idea is something that might work. Most ideas don’t. An innovation is an idea that has proven to work in more than one place. We identify impactful and scalable education innovations and help them spread.” We are grateful CAPS Network has been identified as impactful and scalable by a set of global judges, and more importantly, now surrounded by innovators that are modeling for us how to be going forward.
I never try to leave a conversation or event feeling like I have it all figured out. None of us do. I often find myself telling our CAPS affiliates that if they ever completely master CAPS model implementation to let me know because it will mean they no longer belong in our network. We must maintain a growth mindset, there will always be a new opportunity on the horizon, a new experiment to run.
The HundrED Summit leaves me with the following wonders. I look forward to teasing these out with our colleagues and friends in the months ahead:
- What powers the next level of scale for CAPS? And how does this differ from our current strategy?
- How do we flex to make our model accessible to more students and educators?
- How can groups like HundrED power the greater movement for authentic learning for all?
Corey Mohn is the President & Executive Director of the CAPS Network, a 501c3 nonprofit organization that supports profession-based learning program development for high school students.